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Latest Featured Reports | Tuesday, September 27, 2022
'Gold Standard' SCOTUS Poll Finds Majority of Americans Support Expansion of High Court: 'BradCast' 9/26/22
Also: Disinformationists; Fascism rising; Hurricane Ian threatens FL; Callers ring in...
Sunday 'Heavy Traffic' Toons
Be sure to check PDiddie's latest collection of the week's best toons before crossing state borders. You're welcome!...
Trump, Lindell, Ginni Thomas --- Geniuses All!:
'BradCast' 9/22/22
GOP election conspiracists have bad lawyers; Also: Garland's moving (and telling) remarks at swearing-in of new American citizens...
'Green News Report' 9/22/22
  w/ Brad & Desi
U.N. Sec-Gen wants fossil fuel industry to pay up; New plastics initiative; Puerto Rico still lacking power and clean water; PLUS: Senate approves first climate treaty in decades...
Recent GNRs: 9/20/22 - 9/15/22 - Archives...
It's National Voter Registration Day!
(Who Knew?): 'BradCast' 9/20/22
Also: Beer shortage?!; More on DeSantis' migrant scam; Electoral Count Act reform news; Good (and bad) news for disabled voters; Much more...
'Green News Report' 9/20/22
Simultaneous storms, in Puerto Rico, Alaska, Japan; Climate change juiced Pakistan floods; Aussie energy turnabout; PLUS: Plastics plant blocked in LA...
Kidnapping is a Crime. Will DeSantis Be Held Accountable for It?: 'BradCast' 9/19/22
Also: Media still pulling punches on GOP; Elizabeth finally buried, so will CNN finally cover weekend's THREE hurricane landfalls?!; Plus, callers!...
Sunday 'Pawn' Toons
Make your move to PDiddie's latest collection of the week's best political toons...
Reagan's Big Government Gift to Big Pharma is Still Giving, Killing: 'BradCast' 9/16/22
Guest: Ernest A. Canning; Also: Trump's failed GA election theft; NH GOP Sen. nom flip-flops on 2020 denial; Patagonia gives away company to save planet...
More Good News for Ds; More Fraud Accountability for Rs: 'BradCast' 9/15/22
Biden approval up, strike averted; Trump NY fraud; Feds probe Lindell CO fraud; Fraud probe of MI GOP A.G. nom; NY Election Commish charged w/ absentee vote fraud...
'Green News Report' 9/15/22
U.N. says world in 'uncharted climate territory'; Summer 2022 hottest ever; Clean energy will save world $12 trillion; PLUS: Biden touts IRA, national EV charging network...
'Groundbreaking' Victory for CA's Half-Million Fast-Food Workers: 'BradCast' 9/14/22
Guest: TAP's Harold Meyerson; Also: Rail worker strike looms; Noteworthy primary results from DE, RI, NH...
BARCODED BALLOTS AND BALLOT MARKING DEVICES
BMDs pose a new threat to democracy in all 50 states...
VIDEO: 'Rise of the Tea Bags'
Brad interviews American patriots...
'Democracy's Gold Standard'
Hand-marked, hand-counted ballots...
Brad's Upcoming Appearances
(All times listed as PACIFIC TIME unless noted)
Media Appearance Archives...
'Special Coverage' Archives
GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal 2012...
VA GOP VOTER REG FRAUDSTER OFF HOOK
Felony charges dropped against VA Republican caught trashing voter registrations before last year's election. Did GOP AG, Prosecutor conflicts of interest play role?...

Criminal GOP Voter Registration Fraud Probe Expanding in VA
State investigators widening criminal probe of man arrested destroying registration forms, said now looking at violations of law by Nathan Sproul's RNC-hired firm...

DOJ PROBE SOUGHT AFTER VA ARREST
Arrest of RNC/Sproul man caught destroying registration forms brings official calls for wider criminal probe from compromised VA AG Cuccinelli and U.S. AG Holder...

Arrest in VA: GOP Voter Reg Scandal Widens
'RNC official' charged on 13 counts, for allegely trashing voter registration forms in a dumpster, worked for Romney consultant, 'fired' GOP operative Nathan Sproul...

ALL TOGETHER: ROVE, SPROUL, KOCHS, RNC
His Super-PAC, his voter registration (fraud) firm & their 'Americans for Prosperity' are all based out of same top RNC legal office in Virginia...

LATimes: RNC's 'Fired' Sproul Working for Repubs in 'as Many as 30 States'
So much for the RNC's 'zero tolerance' policy, as discredited Republican registration fraud operative still hiring for dozens of GOP 'Get Out The Vote' campaigns...

'Fired' Sproul Group 'Cloned', Still Working for Republicans in At Least 10 States
The other companies of Romney's GOP operative Nathan Sproul, at center of Voter Registration Fraud Scandal, still at it; Congressional Dems seek answers...

FINALLY: FOX ON GOP REG FRAUD SCANDAL
The belated and begrudging coverage by Fox' Eric Shawn includes two different video reports featuring an interview with The BRAD BLOG's Brad Friedman...

COLORADO FOLLOWS FLORIDA WITH GOP CRIMINAL INVESTIGATION
Repub Sec. of State Gessler ignores expanding GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal, rants about evidence-free 'Dem Voter Fraud' at Tea Party event...

CRIMINAL PROBE LAUNCHED INTO GOP VOTER REGISTRATION FRAUD SCANDAL IN FL
FL Dept. of Law Enforcement confirms 'enough evidence to warrant full-blown investigation'; Election officials told fraudulent forms 'may become evidence in court'...

Brad Breaks PA Photo ID & GOP Registration Fraud Scandal News on Hartmann TV
Another visit on Thom Hartmann's Big Picture with new news on several developing Election Integrity stories...

CAUGHT ON TAPE: COORDINATED NATIONWIDE GOP VOTER REG SCAM
The GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal reveals insidious nationwide registration scheme to keep Obama supporters from even registering to vote...

CRIMINAL ELECTION FRAUD COMPLAINT FILED AGAINST GOP 'FRAUD' FIRM
Scandal spreads to 11 FL counties, other states; RNC, Romney try to contain damage, split from GOP operative...

RICK SCOTT GETS ROLLED IN GOP REGISTRATION FRAUD SCANDAL
Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL) sends blistering letter to Gov. Rick Scott (R) demanding bi-partisan reg fraud probe in FL; Slams 'shocking and hypocritical' silence, lack of action...

VIDEO: Brad Breaks GOP Reg Fraud Scandal on Hartmann TV
Breaking coverage as the RNC fires their Romney-tied voter registration firm, Strategic Allied Consulting...

RNC FIRES NATIONAL VOTER REGISTRATION FIRM FOR FRAUD
After FL & NC GOP fire Romney-tied group, RNC does same; Dead people found reg'd as new voters; RNC paid firm over $3m over 2 months in 5 battleground states...

EXCLUSIVE: Intvw w/ FL Official Who First Discovered GOP Reg Fraud
After fraudulent registration forms from Romney-tied GOP firm found in Palm Beach, Election Supe says state's 'fraud'-obsessed top election official failed to return call...

GOP REGISTRATION FRAUD FOUND IN FL
State GOP fires Romney-tied registration firm after fraudulent forms found in Palm Beach; Firm hired 'at request of RNC' in FL, NC, VA, NV & CO...
The Secret Koch Brothers Tapes...


Guest: Eric Kramer of Arizonans for Fair Elections; Also: Good news on the economy, unions, COVID and cannabis!; Plus: Annoy a Nazi!...
By Brad Friedman on 4/1/2022 6:54pm PT  

Yes, on today's BradCast, we discuss a new, maddening --- and likely unconstitutional --- voter suppression law signed this week by Arizona's Republican Governor. But, as our guest notes, "Don't worry, we've got this!" We'll see. He's got a plan in response that voters in other swing-states may wish to look at as well. Other than that though, today's show ends your week with nothin' but good news! (Mostly.) [Audio link to full toe-tappin' show is posted below this summary.]

First up, good news on COVID! According to the Dept. of Health and Human Services, hospitalizations are now at their lowest rate since the U.S. began keeping records at the beginning of the pandemic two years ago. Of course, last time hospitalizations where near this low we got slammed by Delta and then Omicron shortly thereafter. So, hey, now's a great time to get a vaccine shot or a booster if you haven't in the past 4 months or so!

Then, more good news on the economy! 431,000 new jobs were added in March, as Americans continue to shake off the pandemic, even amid war in Europe and inflation. Since Joe Biden took office, the economy has added a record 7.9 million jobs. Unemployment is the lowest it's been since before the pandemic and barely higher than the nation has seen in a half-century, as the President did some justifiable crowing about those numbers today. Things would be even better had Republicans and Sen. Joe Manchin allowed his Build Back Better bill to pass, given that many more women are needed to fill millions of open jobs, but can't afford the child care (that BBB would have paid for) in order to take them.

But there's still more good news today, for workers and labor unions! Amazon employees in deep red Republican Staten Island, New York voted "yes" to unionize in an historic labor win at the only fulfillment center in New York City! It's the first Amazon facility in the U.S. to do so, but it likely means many others will join them. Another unionization vote at Amazon's fulfillment center in Bessemer, Alabama remains too close to call for the moment. It's the second such vote held at that plant after the National Labor Relations Board found that Amazon had cheated in the first vote and ordered a re-do.

Speaking of cheating in elections: Republicans. Though it may make your head (and mine) explode, mid-term primaries are beginning to kick off all over the country. The first one, last month in Texas, resulted in tens of thousands of disenfranchised absentee voters whose ballots were rejected thanks to the state GOP's new voter suppression law there.

We had slightly better news this week in Florida. There, a federal judge struck down several provisions of the new voter suppression law adopted last year by the GOP-dominated state legislature and Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis (who barely won his initial election back in 2018). U.S. District Judge Mark Walker found that the law unlawfully targeted black voters in violation of both the Constitution and the Voting Rights Act. Most notably, he ordered the state back under the VRA's preclearance regime for the next decade, mandating approval in advance from the federal government for any new election-related laws that may effect minority voters.

Republicans in Arizona, however, have been running a bit behind in their voter suppression. But, on Wednesday this week, the state's Governor Doug Ducey, also facing re-election this year, signed HB 2492 [PDF], even though legislative attorneys in both the state House and Senate found the measure to be likely unconstitutional. In short, it requires state voters to prove they are citizens before they may vote for candidates in state and local elections. But it goes farther than previous such laws in the state. This one could disenfranchise anywhere from 31,000 to nearly 200,000 voters in a state where Democrats won the Presidential election in 2020 by just over 10,000 votes. It would prevent voters who fail to prove their citizenship (or can afford to do so) from voting for either state officials or President. They may still be able to vote for members of Congress, but not during either early voting or via absentee ballot.

We're joined today by ERIC KRAMER, former Chair of the Navajo County Democrats, now Director of the Arizona Deserves Better non-profit coalition to discuss HB 2492 and, more importantly, what he and other voting rights advocates in the state are currently doing to both overturn such measures and prevent even worse ones from being adopted at any time in the future with their new Arizonans for Fair Elections ballot initiative.

We first learned of the effort via DailyKos, where Kramer writes as "EricAZ". Two articles of his there caught our eye in particular. The first, in early March, was headlined "Arizona Right-Wing Goes Batshit Crazy in Attack on Voters (Don’t Worry, We’ve Got This)". The second, a few weeks later, is titled, "The Joy of Soon Beating the U.S. Supreme Court on Several Voting Rights Issues".

Kramer explains how the AZ Fair Elections initiative, targeted for inclusion on the ballot this November, would work to prevent the kind of voter suppression we have been seeing from the increasingly extremist Republican radicals who now control the AZ state legislature. It would roll back laws like HB 2492 and prevent similarly disenfranchising laws from being adopted in an election year. It would also repeal a number of other laws recently adopted by state Republicans which target minority voters (Native Americans in particular), while instituting proactive measures to increase voter turnout, rather than block it, as the GOP is now working so hard to do there and elsewhere.

"In addition to these places where we're kind of playing defense against what they've done to voters in the past, there are some where we are playing offense," Kramer explains in detailing the voter referendum. "We have automatic voter registration. We have Election Day registration. We expand the periods for early voting. And we do quite a lot to help Native American voters and especially disabled voters --- we give more opportunities to vote. So it is a very good initiative."

Can his group, which is currently in the signature gathering process, get the measure onto the ballot in November? And, if so, can they get it passed? "We are going to get it done," he tells me confidently. "We need 243,000 signatures [by July 7] to get on the ballot. We're currently collecting at more than twice the rate we need. Fundraising has gone well. People from all over the country are supporting this. We will get it done."

You can get more information on the initiative --- in case you'd like to support it or consider something similar in your own state --- at the website for the Arizonans for Fair Elections initiative (azfe.org).

Finally, we close with even more good news and a song!

Our final good news for the day is about cannabis. U.S. House Democrats, with almost zero help from Republicans, adopted a measure today to decriminalize marijuana at the federal level, though it will still have to overcome a likely GOP filibuster in the Senate. That, despite the American public's overwhelming support not just for decriminalizing cannabis, but for fully legalizing it once and for all. Not sure why the GOP would be dumb enough to take a pass on shooting the measure down again, as they did back in 2020 when they held the majority in the upper chamber, but explaining Republican stupidity is not my strong suit.

But to keep you happy and singing well into the weekend, we close with a new ditty from Canadian comedian and "The Internet's Favourite Dad* (*unproven)", according to his Twitter profile, Stewart Reynolds, who sings that "it's nice to be disliked!"...So "annoy a Nazi" today!...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest: Legal journalist Mark Joseph Stern of Slate; Also: Major new study confirms Ivermectin ineffective as COVID treatment...
By Brad Friedman on 3/30/2022 7:13pm PT  

On today's BradCast, one of our favorite guests is back to explain why the wildly corrupt Thomases, as horrible as they are, may be one of the least of our concerns when it comes to what the rest of the GOP's wildly corrupt --- not to mention stolen and packed --- U.S. Supreme Court may now be moving toward.[Audio link to full, must-listen show is posted below.]

First up, however, a major new, peer-reviewed, double-blind study released in full today, finds what many have been trying to make clear for quite some time: There is no legitimate evidence that the anti-parasitic drug Ivermectin, most commonly used to de-worm horses, has any positive effect as a treatment for COVID.

In fact, as one part of the huge new Brazilian study found, placebo pills were actually more effective than Ivermectin! Dr. Andrew Hill, a virologist at the University of Liverpool in England, whose early analysis (since retracted) of several smaller studies (at least one of which appears to have been fraudulent) was frequently cited for evidence of the drug's effectiveness, appears now to concur that the new Brazilian study pretty much removes all doubt. Ivermectin is of no use in treating COVID. We now have a pretty large body of evidence demonstrating that is true no matter what clownish TV doctors and profiteers and misinformation specialists on Fox "News" or Joe Rogan's podcast have to say about it.

That said, there are safe and effective (and free) ways to avoid the worst effects of COVID, which peer-reviewed studies have confirmed. They include the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines. Actual professional virologists, epidemiologists and both the CDC and FDA strongly recommend them, as do we. Earlier this week the FDA authorized a second booster shot for anyone over 50 who hasn't received a shot in the past four months. Please get one and let's end this goddamn pandemic once and for all. Thanks.

On to our main topic(s) today, as we're joined by the always great, always illuminating, and pretty much always-right-about-everything MARK JOSEPH STERN, legal journalist from Slate.com who smartly covers the law, the court system, the U.S. Supreme Court, election law, LGBTQ issues and much more.

We've got just a few things to discuss with Stern today, including the ridiculous Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearings last week for Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, Joe Biden's nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court, where she would be its first black female Justice. On Wednesday, it was actually news for some reason that one Senate Republican has announced she will vote for Jackson's confirmation. But, beyond the childish stupidity of Republican Senators on the Judiciary Committee last week falsely suggesting that Jackson is somehow in favor of child porn and terrorists, there was something else far more disturbing that emerged from the GOP questioning of Biden's highly qualified nominee.

In short: Republicans aren't just targeting Roe v. Wade's well-established right to an abortion (which the Supreme Court is very likely to overturn within the next few months), but they actually appear to be gunning to reverse a whole bunch of landmark, privacy-related rights, including Obergefell v. Hodges, the landmark 2015 ruling establishing a Constitutional right to same sex marriage equality. But that's not all. Also now in their sites for reversal are Griswold v. Connecticut (1965, establishing the right for married couples to buy and use contraceptives) and, yes, even Loving v. Virginia (1967's landmark civil rights decision establishing the right to interracial marriage)!

Think these concerns are exaggerated? That Republicans aren't actually gunning for those federal rights as well? Tune in and find out if you're wrong.

Also, as we discuss, Stern now believes it is unlikely that Republicans will ever vote to confirm another Supreme Court Justice nominated by a Democratic President if they regain majority control of the Senate. He further believes they will stop confirming the President's nominees for any judgeship on the federal bench.

"It is very clear now that Republicans begin from the position that Democratic Presidents have no authority and no right to appoint Supreme Court Justices, or to appoint lower court judges. This is following a longstanding pattern in the Senate of Republicans almost uniformly --- or all uniformly --- voting against nominees to the lower court, including many who are super-qualified and uncontroversial," Stern observes. "We have swung back and forth between close confirmation votes and big overwhelming lopsided confirmation votes, but I fear that this is how it will be forevermore."

While those issues would be more than enough to fill an entire interview, it's not even half of what we cover with Stern today, including his thoughts on the wildly corrupt longtime rightwing activist Ginni Thomas and her husband, the wildly corrupt longtime rightwing activist Justice Clarence Thomas. The conversation follows on last week's explosive revelations that Ginni was relentlessly texting Donald Trump's Chief of Staff Mark Meadows in November of 2020, urging him to fight to reverse the results of Joe Biden's election victory, in hopes of overturning American democracy itself.

Given that Clarence was the only vote on the High Court in favor of blocking subpoenaed documents from the Trump White House, which might have included emails and text from Ginni, from being turned over by the National Archives to the U.S. House January 6 Committee, Stern believes this matter is now like nothing we have ever seen at SCOTUS.

"This may feel like the latest in a long line of atrocious conflicts of interest and injustices that Clarence and Ginni Thomas have inflicted on the country, but it is materially different, because we have never before seen a case where Clarence Thomas' vote so directly implicates his wife's work," Stern argues. After I note another such case --- where Ginni received hundreds of thousands of dollars in dark money for her so-called non-partisan non-profits following Clarence's vote in the 2010 Citizens United case (after that very same group, Citizens United, had quietly spent hundreds of thousands to help push through Clarence's controversial confirmation in 1991!), Stern notes that it "looks to the world, quite reasonably, like a husband trying to shield his wife from legal scrutiny. I think that is a huge leap forward in this story. This is different in kind, not just degree." He adds: "I think it's helpful to draw this distinction between votes that benefit a spouse and votes that shield them from a criminal probe."

So what should be done about the Thomases? Tune in for Stern's thoughts (and mine!) for a very lively conversation on that.

But wait, there's more! You may have heard about last week's outrageous "shadow docket" decision by the Court that put on hold a ruling by Wisconsin's Supreme Court, including the opinion written by one of its leading conservative justices, finding that Democratic Governor Tony Evers' new map for state legislative seats in the Badger State should be used in this year's redistricting, following the 2020 Census. The GOP's corrupt SCOTUS, however, feels otherwise, even though Evers' map was closer to the state's previous (and wildly gerrymandered) one than the map pushed by the state's far-right gerrymandered state legislature. To make the matter even more absurd, the High Court completely ignored its own entirely made up and opportunistically used "Purcell Principle", which is supposedly meant to prevent last minutes changes to laws that might throw elections into chaos. In this case, since Wisconsin's Supreme Court and Democratic Governor both agreed that a new black majority district was needed in Milwaukee, the rightwingers on SCOTUS decided they'd never heard of Purcell or, apparently, the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

If you're flummoxed about all of this based on the above explanation, you're not alone. Tune in, as Stern tries, as usual, to help us make sense of the senselessness now coming out of a U.S. Supreme Court that is on the verge of losing whatever shred of legitimacy it may have had left at this point...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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While we post The BradCast here every day, and you can hear it across all of our great affiliate stations and websites, to automagically get new episodes as soon as they're available sent right to your computer or personal device, subscribe for free at iTunes, Stitcher, TuneIn or our native RSS feed!
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Also: GOP's KBJ confirmation idiocy; KY's anti-marriage equality clerk finally found guilty; 23,000 mail ballots rejected under new TX law...
By Brad Friedman on 3/22/2022 6:47pm PT  

There were a surprising number of callers into yesterday's program who seemed to believe that if the U.S. simply left Ukraine to its own devices, somehow there wouldn't be a massive genocide and destruction of the Ukrainian state by Russia, and that it wouldn't somehow lead to WWIII. Those callers are wrong, I'm sorry to say. And I'm even sorrier that many of them are on the left. On today's BradCast we spend some time explaining how many have come to misunderstand a lot of bad and (often purposely) misleading information out there, and how deeply-ingrained (and well-justified!) anti-war sentiments against the U.S. war machine are now ill-serving some on the supposed left now that Russia is the actual aggressor. We also cover several ongoing fights for our own struggling democracy here at home --- in the U.S. Senate, at SCOTUS, and in both Kentucky and Texas. [Audio link to today's show is posted below this summary.]

Among the many stories covered or referenced today...

  • A quick review of Day 2 of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson's confirmation hearings in the U.S. Senate, where Republicans are spending their time questioning the first black female nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court as a way to improve their own electoral ambitions and/or nab an appearance on Fox "News". ("Do you believe babies are racist, Ms. Jackson?") Since we don't care to privilege the lies, we don't spend much time on that idiocy, though there were some important exchanges with some of the Democratic Senators, including Jackson's thoughts on the importance of respecting long-settled issues of law and civil rights. That, as the GOP's current stolen, packed and bought majority on the High Court begins dismantling decades of well-established and critical legal precedents.
  • Then, some thoughts on some of our callers and emailers on yesterday's program, when we opened the phone lines up to listeners on why they believe President Biden's approval ratings remain low, even as his actions in response to Russia's barbaric attack on Ukraine are so wildly popular among Americans of all parties. We discuss why we believe those callers who want the U.S. to stop supporting Ukraine are deadly wrong about that, and why an emailer who cites Putin's pretext about "de-Nazification" in Ukraine has been wildly misled.
  • That conversation also includes some audio from an interview with a Rabbi in Odesa by NPR's investigative correspondent in Ukraine, Tim Mak. He is told by Rabbi Avraham Wolf, during the interview in a synagogue built by his wife's great great grandfather in 1898, that he believes talk about Nazis in Ukraine is "stupid" and that he has "never in 30 years" experienced any anti-semitism in Odesa.
  • The conversation on all of this also includes this weekend's remarks on ABC News from the courageous Marina Ovsyannikova, a producer at Russia's state-run Channel One, describing her "spontaneous decision" to appear on air with a "NO WAR" protest sign during a news report recently. "I could see what in reality was happening in Ukraine, and what we showed on our programs was very different from what was going on in reality," she explained on Sunday following her arrest, as she still faces a potential 15 years in prison under Putin's new censorship law. While she claims that most Russians oppose Putin's "gruesome war," Ovsyannikova determined that her televised protest might "show to the Russian people that [the state-run media outlet's reports were] just propaganda, expose this propaganda for what it is and maybe stimulate some people to speak up against the war."
  • Then, it's back to our own faltering democracy in the U.S., but with a bit of long-awaited good news for a change. After seven years of delays in court --- thanks to a well-moneyed far-right legal outfit --- Kim Davis, the infamous and Fox-famous Rowan County, Kentucky Clerk who cited "religious beliefs" for her refusal to issue marriage licenses after SCOTUS established the right to marriage equality in 2015, was finally found to have violated the law. In a lawsuit filed by several couples who were refused licenses to marry, a George W. Bush-appointed federal judge held that Davis "cannot use her own constitutional rights as a shield to violate the constitutional rights of others while performing her duties as an elected official.” A jury will determine the financial penalty for Davis, who lost her re-election bid in 2018. Of course her wingnut attorneys will attempt to appeal all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court (even though they already rejected one of Davis' previous arguments...at least before Republicans stole their 6 to 3 majority on the High Court.)
  • In far less encouraging news, an AP analysis has determined that some 23,000 absentee voters in Texas' first-in-the-nation 2022 mid-term primaries on March 1, had their ballots rejected and never counted. AP finds roughly 13% of mail ballots were discarded under the TX GOP's new voter restriction law, SB 1, that they claimed would make it "easier to vote and harder to cheat". That, compared to the 2% of mail ballots that were rejected during the state's previous mid-term primaries in 2018. Thousands of voters in both Republican- and Democratic-leaning counties alike were disenfranchised under the first election held under the new law, though rejection rates were slightly higher in larger, more Dem-leaning counties. Mail voters in Harris County (Houston), for example, saw a gobsmacking rejection rate of 19%! In the weeks and months ahead, primaries will be held in some 17 other states where Republicans have passed new laws making it harder to vote in response to Donald Trump's evidence-free claims of massive fraud in the 2020 election.
  • Finally, and also speaking of Texas, Desi Doyen has our latest Green News Report, with out-of-control climate change-fueled wildfires spreading across the Lone Star State; unbelievably warm and unprecedented simultaneous extreme heat waves at both the North and South poles, and how KBJ's Senate confirmation reminds us yet again that elections (and voting!) have critical consequences...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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While we post The BradCast here every day, and you can hear it across all of our great affiliate stations and websites, to automagically get new episodes as soon as they're available sent right to your computer or personal device, subscribe for free at iTunes, Stitcher, TuneIn or our native RSS feed!
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Guest: Ron Fein of Free Speech for People; Also: Russian atrocities; SCOTUS threatens fair elections; 'Help Fight Fascism! Work from Home!'...
By Brad Friedman on 3/9/2022 7:01pm PT  

The news out of Ukraine continues to be grim, but there are a few bright spots here at home on today's BradCast, a way that you can help fight fascism without leaving home, and a renewed challenge to an alleged insurrectionist Congressman's eligibility to run for re-election. [Audio link to full show is posted at the end of this summary.]

FIRST UP, Vladimir Putin is now unleashing outright atrocities and unspeakable war crimes against the civilian population of Ukraine. On Wednesday, for example, Russian troops bombed a maternity hospital in Mariupol as nearly half a million residents in the southern Ukrainian city have been cut off from food, water, medicine and power for days. It could all still get much worse. In several ways. One of them is that the crippled Chernobyl nuclear plant in Ukraine, now in the control of the Russians, has now been cut off from the power grid. Diesel generators are hoped capable of keeping the cooling system for the plant's 20,000 spent fuel rods from melting down entirely...as long as generators can be refueled and kept running.

Yesterday, we discussed a bit how working at home --- as many of us did during the pandemic lockdowns --- can help the war effort against Russia in several ways, if only by tamping down surging oil prices. A new poll from Rupert Murdoch's Wall Street Journal finds a huge majority of Americans, 79%, favor cutting off Russian oil imports, even if it further increases the cost of gas at the pump.

Today, we double down on our call: HELP FIGHT FASCISM! WORK FROM HOME! (For now. If you can. It really could make a difference in several ways!) One of our listeners has some additional thoughts, via email, which we share today along similar lines.

NEXT UP, some good news for Democrats --- and those who support representative democracy --- from the U.S. Supreme Court this week. But that good news on U.S. House redistricting in two critical swing states also served to overshadow some potentially ominous news from the GOP's stolen and packed Court. The good news was that the Justices turned away two Republican challenges to new U.S. House maps selected by two state Supreme Courts in Pennsylvania and North Carolina. Each is likely to benefit Democrats this November. The disturbing, largely overshadowed news, is that the four rightwing Justices who would have preferred to have heard the challenges to the new House maps, made clear in their dissents that they are likely supportive of the bonkers "Independent State Legislature Theory".

In short, that's an old Constitutional argument that's been around for years, but has never received the support of a majority of Justices. It holds that two clauses in the U.S. Constitution delegating the "time, place and manner" of elections to state legislatures means that only state legislatures can set any election law, procedures or district map. That means that any other state officials --- Secretaries of State, state Boards of Elections, Governors through their veto pens, or even state courts --- have absolutely no authority to challenge or change any election-related provision adopted by a state legislature. Under this theory, even state Constitutional amendments adopted by a vote of the people would be deemed unconstitutional!

As noted, it's a bonkers theory. But it's one that now apparently has at least four votes in support on the Republican Party's far-right stolen majority. The dissenting Justices in the redistricting cases made quite clear: this issue will return to the Court soon, and it needs the support of just one more Justice. You have now been warned.

FINALLY, for the past two weeks or so, largely since Russia invaded Ukraine, we've been trying unsuccessfully to get back to a story we were covering closely prior to the war, as its both an important one, and there have been a number of twists and turns in it since over the past several weeks.

As we discussed early last month with John Bonifaz, Constitutional law expert and Free Speech for People (FSFP)'s co-founder and President, voters in North Carolina filed a challenge with the State Board of Elections to first-term MAGA Congressman Madison Cawthorn's eligibility to run for re-election. The challenge is based on their claim that Cawthorn violated Sec. 3 of the 14th Amendment which bars anyone from running for federal office who has taken an oath to defend the Constitution, but subsequently "engaged in insurrection or rebellion" against it. The Civil War-era amendment was initially meant to prevent Confederates from running for federal office. Now it is being used to challenge Cawthorn's eligibility to run and, if successful, others as well, including Donald Trump himself if he becomes a candidate in 2024.

Cawthorn spoke at Trump's rally on January 6th, 2021, just days after being sworn in. He is also said to have been among some of the elected officials who may have helped organize the deadly assault on the Capitol that day, meant to prevent the ratification of Joe Biden's Electoral College victory.

There have been a number of twists and turns in this story in recent weeks. Rather than defend himself before the State Board, Cawthorn filed a federal lawsuit to block the challenge entirely, absurdly claiming the Board had no right to determine anyone's eligibility to run for office. Both the State Board and the state's Attorney General filed motions rejecting that argument.

As the case worked it's way through federal district court, the State Board of Elections paused the challenge, as the state's U.S. House map was being contested in state court as well. Once the state Supreme Court selected the maps to be used in the 2022 mid-terms, Cawthorn's district had changed. The voters who initially filed the challenge to his eligibility, with the help of the non-partisan, government accountability group, FSFP, were no longer residents of Cawthorn's new district. But FSFP found new voters in Cawthorn's new district to refile the challenge.

And then, last Friday, in a gobsmacking ruling from the bench, the Trump-appointed federal judge overseeing Cawthorn's lawsuit to block the state challenge ruled in his favor. Judge Richard E. Meyers II declared that a law adopted by Congress in the years after the Civil War, the Amnesty Act of 1872, somehow forgave not only Confederate soldiers, but also any insurrectionists against the United States at any time in the future. The judge's ruling essentially holds that an act of Congress 150 years ago --- without ratification by any states --- nullifies an actual Constitutional Amendment for all time.

Yes, as FSFP's Legal Director RON FEIN, who joins us today explains, the ruling is largely as absurd as it sounds. Fein explains why, and what FSFP plans to do about it, including their emergency appeal to Judge Meyers ruling, filed in federal court today...

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Guest: Legal reporter Mark Joseph Stern on KBJ, the EPA, dark money in the federal judiciary and much more; Also: Latest good-ish news and bleak news out of Ukraine...
By Brad Friedman on 3/3/2022 6:34pm PT  

We continue the impossible balancing act on today's BradCast between coverage of the chilling news out of Ukraine and the somewhat less grim --- but still (mostly) grim --- news out of the federal judiciary in our own teetering democracy. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

FIRST, in our quick round-up of the latest developments in Russia's horrific assault against Ukraine:

  • Some good-ish news as the second round of peace talks results in a "possible temporary ceasefire" to establish humanitarian corridors in some areas of Ukraine to allow safe evacuation out of the country and for food and medical supplies to be brought in.
  • The UN says 1 million refugees have already fled Ukraine over the past week, a record for number to leave any nation that quickly this century. But, they warn, the number of displaced residents could rise to more than 4 million, and potentially as high as 10 million as the unspeakable violence continues.
  • More good-ish news in that the Pentagon has reportedly established a direct line of communication with the Russian defense ministry. The so-called "de-confliction line" has been established "for the purpose of preventing miscalculation, military incidents, and escalation," as AP is reporting.
  • The International Criminal Court is said to have opened an investigation into Russian war crimes and atrocities.
  • French President Emmanuel Macron, after a "not-so-friendly" call with Vladimir Putin, reports "the worst is yet to come" in the conflict.
  • According to its Mayor, Russian troops have finally taken control of a major city in Ukraine, the city of Kherson on the Black Sea near Crimea. Russian troops are said to be "laying siege" to the key nearby Ukrainian city of Mariupol.
  • Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is pleading for more international assistance and calling on NATO to establish a no-fly zone over the country. That, however, would directly pull both U.S. and NATO into direct military conflict with Russia, sparking WWIII in the bargain.
  • And, in the U.S. House on Wednesday, a bipartisan, non-binding resolution "Supporting the people of Ukraine" and its sovereign territory, condemning Russia, was approved by an overwhelming 426 to 3 vote. The three members voting against were all Republicans: Reps. Paul Gosar of Arizona, Thomas Massie of Kentucky and Matt Rosendale of Montana. The explanations from all three are appalling.

NEXT, it's back to U.S. news focused on the federal judiciary, with the great MARK JOSEPH STERN, legal journalist at Slate, who, on the day that Justice Stephen Breyer announced his retirement from the U.S. Supreme Court back in January, told us that his "likely" successor would be Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson. Last week, she was nominated by President Biden to the High Court.

Among the many court-related matters discussed with Stern today (including several of them in a lightning round, as we tried to catch up with a boatload of news that has otherwise been overshadowed by the war in Eastern Europe)...

  • His thoughts on Judge Jackson, why he predicted back in January that she'd be nominated, what difference she can make on the GOP's stolen and packed Court, and what, if any, roadblocks may stand in the way of her confirmation as the first black woman to sit as a Justice.
  • This week's SCOTUS hearing on West Virginia v. EPA, a challenge by "red" states and the fossil fuel industry to President Obama's Clean Power Plan (which never went into effect) and Trump's subsequent program that replaced it (which was rolled back by the Court and also never went into effect). So why did the GOP's stolen and packed SCOTUS shock Court watchers by deciding to hear this case at all, since nobody has actually been harmed in any way? We discuss. But it's about not only gutting the EPA's statutory ability in the near future to regulate greenhouse gas emissions causing our deadly climate crisis, but also about undermining regulatory actions by all Executive Branch agencies (at least when a Democrat is in control of them.)
  • While the role of dark money in campaigns and elections is fairly well understood, how dark money affects appointments to the federal judiciary and the cases they hear is much less appreciated. Stern explains some of the many ways this has poisoned the U.S. judicial system.
  • Last week, SCOTUS turned away a challenge to Maine's COVID-19 vaccine mandate for healthcare workers, filed by plaintiffs seeking a religious exemption. Why has the Court been allowing some state and local mandates to proceed, even without religious exemptions, while blocking others imposed by the Biden Administration? Stern explains.
  • Remember that 2018 decision by SCOTUS regarding a baker who didn't want to bake a wedding cake for a gay couple in Colorado? His bigotry was allowed, but for largely technical reasons. Now the Court has decided to hear yet another challenge to Colorado's anti-discrimination law from a woman who is considering expanding her web design business to create wedding sites. But, if she does, she doesn't want to create them for same sex weddings, in violation of CO's law. Stern explains that idiocy as well.
  • And, finally, in perhaps the most insane court story we discuss today, this one out of the far-right 5th federal Circuit. The lede from Stern's coverage at Salon this week should give you a taste of just how insane it actually is: "On Monday, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals issued a stunning decision transferring control over the Navy’s special operations forces from the commander in chief to a single federal judge in Texas. The 5th Circuit’s decision marks an astonishing infringement of President Joe Biden’s constitutional authority over the nation’s armed forces, directing him to follow the instructions of an unelected judge—rather than his own admirals—in deploying [Navy] SEALs. High-ranking military personnel have testified under oath that this power grab constitutes a direct threat to the Navy’s operational abilities. As Russia invades Ukraine and declares a nuclear alert, Donald Trump’s judges are actively threatening America’s national security."

FINALLY, Desi Doyen joins us for an only slightly less insane Green News Report: On Biden's SOTU, on Russia's oil and gas industry getting pummeled because of its attack on Ukraine; and some VERY encouraging news about wind energy...

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Special coverage with guests Heather Digby Parton of Salon and Richard 'RJ' Eskow of 'The Zero Hour'; Also: TX primary results, election probs...
By Brad Friedman on 3/2/2022 5:37pm PT  

"Democracies are rising to the moment," President Biden forcefully asserted during his first official State of the Union address on Tuesday night. "And the world is clearly choosing the side of peace and security." Is he right? We discuss that and much more on Biden's impossible address last night on today's BradCast.

Before we jump in, however, it was also Election Day in Texas on Tuesday, the nation's first primaries of the 2022 mid-term cycle. We briefly cover the reported results of the top-line races for Governor and Attorney General, as well as some interesting House races with progressive challengers on the Democratic side. There were also several curious anomalies we are looking into out Houston's Harris County, regarding the reported shutdown of some polling places to Democrats (and others, purportedly, shut down to Republican voters); some post-election squabbles on delayed results from the County, reportedly due to problems tallying long ballots on their new, 100% unverifiable touch-screen voting systems; and continuing concerns about thousands of rejected vote-by-mail ballots thanks to new restrictions on absentee voting enacted by the Republican lawmakers last year in the state's newly adopted SB1 law.

Our main focus today, of course, is on Biden's first SOTU. This one, amid a newly raging war on Ukraine, as the autocratic Russia continues its appalling attack on its democratic sovereign neighbor, and as the U.N. General Assembly on Wednesday condemned Russia's aggression and atrocities by a lopsided 141 to 5 vote. There were 35 abstentions (including China) and support for Russia offered from Belarus, Cuba, North Korea and Syria.

As if Biden didn't already have enough to worry about with the continuing, if waning (for now), pandemic; an insurrectionist and obstructionist Republican Party; two obstructionist Democrats blocking the bulk of his domestic agenda; and both an opposition party and corporate media hell-bent on weaponizing predictable post-pandemic inflation, even amid a booming economy with growing wages, record corporate profits, record low unemployment, and the highest growth in GDP since the 1980s. All of which has resulted, reasonably or not, resulted in Biden's approval ratings plummeting in advance of this year's critical mid-terms.

Any one of those issues (and, yes, there are more!) would be enough for one State of the Union address. Biden, somehow, had to deal with them all on Tuesday night.

We're joined today for our special coverage by fellow longtime progressive troublemakers and muckrakers HEATHER DIGBY PARTON of Salon and Hullabaloo and RICHARD 'RJ' ESKOW of The Zero Hour.

There is a lot to discuss today, as we break down key moments from Biden's remarks. But, just for a taste, while they both Parton and Eskow laud the President for rising to the moment and bringing the world together regarding Russia, on the domestic front, political trouble may loom.

"Democrats always have this problem," Parton notes. "The historical pattern here is clear. The Republicans come in and they wreck the place, and Democrats come in and have to clean up the mess. And in the first two years, it's really hard."

"He's not getting a break from the media," Eskow argues. "I think people are also terribly sick of COVID, and he's had to bow to that fatigue. On the grand scheme of things, the big lesson here is the limits of Presidential power, and the fact that he would love to be doing a lot more. Here's a man who spent 50 years running for President, now he's got it, and I feel sorry for him."

Did last night serve to help Biden and the Democrats change their trajectory as we head toward a mid-term election which the media continues to remind voters is (almost always) a historically difficult one for the party in power? Tune in for our special coverage and conversation on that and much, much more...

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Guest: Grace Chimene, President, TX League of Women Voters on alarming mid-term primary ballot rejection rate; Also: Biden announces 'first tranche' of Russian sanctions in response to 'invasion'...
By Brad Friedman on 2/22/2022 6:22pm PT  

On today's BradCast: The greatest threat to autocracy is, of course, democracy. Which is why, I believe, Vladimir Putin is now threatening Ukraine and why Republicans in this country are (successfully) attacking the right to vote itself. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

On Ukraine today, we share the latest in the increasingly dangerous standoff that threatens to spark all out war in Eastern Europe, unlike anything seen since WWII. That, on the heels of Putin's increasingly militaristic and bellicose pronouncements and his unilateral declaration on Monday that two Russia-backed, separatist-controlled regions in the eastern part of Ukraine are now independent "republics" that Russian troops may enter (invade) at will, in defiance of international law.

In response to the increased aggression, and in hopes of staving off a full-scale invasion, the U.S. and some 27 European Union members have begun to institute a series of sanctions, including Germany's announcement that they are halting certification of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, a lucrative project for Russia which they had spent years working to open.

In Washington today, President Biden offered brief remarks which we share, decrying the Russian President for "carving out a big chunk of Ukraine" in defiance of international law, even as Biden remains hopeful that diplomacy is still possible. At the same time, however, he announced what he described as the "first tranche" of economic sanctions against Russian financial institutions, as well as several elites and their family members, with much more to come if a full scale invasion is launched.

There is, of course, much discussion and debate about all of this, with experts and pundits choosing up sides and offering explanations for Putin's behavior. The U.S. and EU and NATO certainly play a part in this potentially lethal failure of post-WWII, post-Cold War European diplomacy. But the point for now that rings most true, at least to me, was cited today by the WaPo Editorial Board arguing that Putin's "true reason for targeting Ukraine is not Russian national security but to preserve his own power in Moscow, which would be threatened by a successful democratic experiment in a former Soviet republic of Ukraine’s size and cultural importance."

Yes, authoritarians hate democracy. It's as simple as that. Which is why we've seen, in this country of late, so many voter suppression laws adopted by GOP-controlled states in the wake of Donald Trump's loss in 2020 and his false, evidence-free claims that the election was stolen from him through some sort of "fraud".

We've covered --- and warned about --- the many new voting restrictions adopted by Republican-controlled states and legislatures since 2020 for months. Now we are finally seeing how those new suppression laws are having a direct and disastrous effect on actual elections, beginning with Texas, which is the first state to hold its primaries for the 2022 mid-terms, next Tuesday.

With new restrictions on absentee voting --- in one of the most difficult states to vote by mail already! --- an extraordinarily high percentage of absentee ballot applications have been rejected in recent weeks in the state's most populous counties. Many of the rejected applications --- more than 30% in Houston's Harris County --- were due to the new, and at times impossible, requirements to include identifying information that exactly matches that on the voter's record, even if they registered to vote decades ago and have no clue whether they included a drivers license number or a social security number or no number at all at the time.

But of those who are able to finally get an absentee ballot, the rejection rates, so far, of actual ballots in advance of next week's Election Day are stunning. 35% of ballots are being rejected in Harris County, the state's most populous (and most African-American); 26% of mail-in ballots in Dallas County; and 25% of ballots are being nixed in Collins County, just north of Dallas.

We're joined today by GRACE CHIMENE, President of the League of Women Voters of Texas, to explain what is going on in the Lone Star State; why it's going on; whether Republicans (whose voters are also being suppressed, if not in as large numbers) have any concerns about what is going on; and what, if anything, can be done about any of it in time for next Tuesday or, at the very least, before this November, when the number of voters --- and rejected applications and ballots --- will be much much higher unless the state's SB1 law is amended or blocked by the courts.

Chimene cites Texas officials who declared the 2020 election as "a very safe and secure election." Nonetheless, she notes, "the officials and the politicians who are writing these bills were the ones who won during the election. And it was safe and secure. So, really, I don't think they thought of this SB1 voter suppression bill, I don't think they thought of these ideas themselves. I think they came from someplace else and they were pushed out trying to meet somebody else's agenda of suppressing the vote even further here in Texas."

Election officials are now barred from informing eligible voters that they may vote by mail and, even when their applications or ballots are rejected, they are forced to be circumspect about why. Chimene explained that eventually officials were allowed to send a postcard to notify voters about rejected applications, but "what they don't tell them is where the mistake was in their application. They're not being told why the application was rejected, they're just notified that it was a rejected application." Notifying voters of rejected BALLOTS has been similarly fraught. "It's just a mess," the longtime non-partisan voting advocate tells us.

Chimene says that she "was hoping for some federal help, through federal legislation, such as updating the Voting Rights Act or the John Lewis Voting Rights Act, and it was so disappointing that that didn't happen." She calls out Texas Republicans for targeting voters and federal law enforcement for an inadequate response to it: "The issue is, who do they want to vote in the election, and how can they stop it? And it's just very disheartening to see this happening and that there's no help coming from the federal government."

What is now happening, in alarming numbers in Texas, Chimene explains, is "a way to stop people who have been voting for a very long time, very successfully, very securely and safely, and now they're unable to participate in the democracy. It's just bad news for democracy."

We seem to have quite a bit of that today...And not just in Texas...

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Since nobody seems to know much about either, we open the phone lines to listeners to see what we can learn...
By Brad Friedman on 2/14/2022 6:05pm PT  

There are two stories, one major, the other one only "major" thanks to rightwing media fueling it, that I've wanted to cover more on The BradCast of late, but haven't. Why? Because, in both cases, both stories make little sense to me and the so-called "experts" or pundits out there seem to be ideological, for or against, in one way or another that fails to offer much clarity or insight to either story. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

So, I figure, if the so-called pundits and experts don't know much and are doing little more than offering their opinions and best-guesses, our callers couldn't do much worse, right? Fact-check: True! Callers came through today with shining colors!

The first story is the dumb Canadian trucker protests over vaccine mandates. As you know, they are attempting to shut down U.S.-Canadian trade across transcontinental bridges in hopes of forcing the government to meet their demands. They have been succeeding at harming the economy in both countries, at least until this weekend when Canadian police finally cleared the crossing at the Ambassador Bridge between Windsor, Ontario and Detroit. That closure threatened some $360 million a day in two-way cargo across the bridge or about 25% of the U.S.-Canada goods trade, according to Reuters.

The otherwise unpopular demonstrations in Canada are being fueled with money from the U.S. and round-the-clock coverage on wingnut cable TV. And, in addition to shutting off trade (leading some automakers to have to shut down some production), the demonstrations have included Trump, Nazi and Confederate flags, as well as protesters urinating on a Canadian war memorial. At a crossing into Montana from Coutts, Alberta, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police say they arrested 11 people blockading the border after learning of a cache of guns and ammunition, including long guns, handguns, body armor, and a lot of ammo and high-capacity magazines.

Can you imagine Fox "News" supporting an actual civil rights protests in this country that included weapons, Nazi flags and urinating on war memorials? But, of course, the dumb protests in Canada have little to do with actual civil rights --- even as I strongly support the right for anybody to protest whatever they want, even dumb stuff like opposition to life-saving vaccine mandates.

The far more dangerous story, obviously, continues in Russia and Ukraine, where the former has now reportedly deployed as many as 130,000 troops on three sides of the latter and where, according to the weeks long insistence from the U.S., an invasion is now as "imminent" as this Wednesday. The U.S. --- and NATO and the EU --- have been warning of an "imminent" attack for weeks now, and one may be. But Russia continues to deny any plans for an attack on the former Soviet state and nobody seems to have any more than best guesses about what the truth is and what will actually happen next.

Perhaps a better question is why is the U.S. so loudly broadcasting what they see as Russia's "imminent" plans to invade --- now said to be as early as this Wednesday. Is it because Russia really is going to invade? Or is there another reason?

We discuss all of that and much more with some terrific callers today --- including one who says he used to work for in Russ for a vodka millionaire, and another who explains that she had been working recently on a construction project at the border crossing into British Columbia from Washington State.

Then, as usual, there are the always-fun callers who completely disagree with me on everything (particularly on life-saving COVID vaccines), and I always enjoy those calls the most! I'll hope you do too!...

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Guest: Adrian Martinez of EarthJustice; Also: Senators alarmed by unknown CIA data collection program; Musk readies his 'Starship'...
By Brad Friedman on 2/11/2022 6:07pm PT  

No. The BradCast is not letting this one go. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

As we discussed in some detail last week, the U.S. Postal Service, under the corrupt direction of Donald Trump's still-in-his-post-for-some-reason Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, is about to spend more than $11 billion to replace the Service's mail delivery truck fleet. Based on an absurdly (and, as our guest today argues, purposely) flawed economic and environmental study, the USPS will be purchasing 165,000 new delivery trucks with just 10% of them being fully electric. The rest will burn at least 110,000 gallons of fuel each year (and likely much more), getting just over a ridiculous 8 miles per gallon --- or as much as 14 when the AC is turned off!

That means, as our guest recently wrote, the new trucks, comprising about 30% of the federal government's automotive fleet, will burn through "a jaw-dropping 2 to 4 billion gallons of fuel" over their expected 20-year lifetime. All of this in the middle of a dangerously worsening climate crisis for the planet and as President Biden is vowing to drastically cut greenhouse gas emissions over the next decade.

Last week, the EPA and White House Council on Environmental Quality wrote a letter to the USPS, objecting to the plan and essentially begging the quasi-independent Executive Branch agency to review their flawed environmental analysis to consider electrifying the entire fleet instead.

DeJoy, meanwhile, is claiming they can't afford to do that, despite being flush with more than $20 billion in pandemic cash from the federal government. And the Postal Service PR team is busy greenwashing all of this as "real sustainability" for "a cleaner world", as their website explains how they are "updating our fleet with fuel-efficient vehicles to help do our part." How do they make such an absurd claim? Well, the new fleet, as it turns out, will be 0.4 miles per gallon more efficient than the existing fleet that's been in use since the 1980s!

As if all of this isn't obscene enough, earlier this week, VICE's Aaron Gordon reported that the newly designed gasoline-powered trucks, estimated to clock in at 8,501 pounds with mail on board --- "almost double the weight of the current USPS delivery vehicle" --- means they will avoid the EPA's new fuel efficiency standards for "light duty" trucks, which are limited to, as luck would have it, 8,500 pounds! If they were just .01 pound lighter, he reports, they would likely be illegal.

Yes. It is all as outrageous --- and insane --- and corrupt --- as it sounds.

We're joined today by ADRIAN MARTINEZ, Senior Attorney for EarthJustice, a non-profit environmental law group where he works on clean air, clean energy, and other environmental justice issues. Martinez details more evidence of how the USPS environmental study appears to have been purposely "flawed, and took every effort to make internal combustion gas-guzzling trucks look good and electric vehicles look bad," to justify buying nearly 165,000 polluting vehicles at this critical moment.

"The environmental analysis assumes that gas will be $2.50 a gallon in 2040," he explains. "You can barely find a place in the country where it is $2.50 a gallon now! But they assume gas prices will remain low. And so what that does is it makes their calculations for the total cost of ownership of a gas-guzzling truck look better than it should be. They did this on a range of different issues and it really resulted in an analysis that was faulty and reckless, to be completely candid."

"To call these vehicles 'fuel efficient' is laughable," Martinez tells me. "There is nothing sustainable about this decision. In fact, it's the opposite. We're in 2022, and having to have this debate is just absurd."

Of course, the Postal Service is doing its best to avoid this "debate" entirely. Both the EPA and the state of California have asked the Service to hold public hearings on the matter, before they purchase tens of thousands of new gas-powered trucks from Wisconsin-based military contractor, Oshkosh Defense (maker of heavy-duty armored vehicles.) To date, they have not agreed to public hearings or to even take public comment. Martinez says that his organization has collected more than 20,000 public comments to give to the Service, which told them over the weekend "we're not accepting comments on the environmental document at this time."

Martinez has much more today on the "brazen" responses from the USPS under DeJoy's command, which is apparently also ignoring a recent letter from 16 U.S. Senators similarly asking them to electrify the fleet. We also discuss why the hell DeJoy is still in his job at all, and what you and the rest of the public can do about all of this. (Desi also has an interesting idea along those lines as well.) If all else fails, Martinez suggests, there are legal options that his group and others are likely to take in court under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).

Also today, two other items of note. Only one of them is really disturbing. A newly developing story broke last night based on a (partially redacted) letter to the CIA Director and the Director of National Intelligence, from Senators Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Martin Heinrich (D-NM), released late on Thursday night. The letter suggests there is some sort of very troubling data collection going at at the CIA. The unredacted portions cryptically describe a "secret bulk collection program" that "has been kept from the public and from Congress" and that is "entirely outside the statutory framework that Congress and the public believe govern this collection, and without any of the judicial, congressional or even executive branch oversight that comes with [Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act] collection."

What does that all mean? We don't yet know enough yet for certain to tell ya. But it seems worth noting, as I would expect more on this story to develop in the days ahead.

And, finally, we close with some news --- with an excellent Bowie tune to go with it --- about how we are all getting just a little bit closer to being able to escape this increasingly unlivable planet one day for good. That said, the options out there in the universe aren't yet particularly appetizing. So, it would be much better to electrify the mail delivery fleet instead!...

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Also: Oath Keepers founder charged with 'seditious conspiracy' for Capitol attack; Bernstein says Jan 6. 'cover-up in excess of Watergate'...
By Brad Friedman on 1/13/2022 6:59pm PT  

Our guest on yesterday's BradCast nailed it. The stolen and packed U.S. Supreme Court did, in fact, strike down one of the Biden Administration's vaccine mandates today (the one that allows employees to not get vaccinated if they choose), while narrowly approving the vaccine mandate for all health care workers at facilities that receive federal funding. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

The Omicron surge continues to rack up both record infections and hospitalizations. Death counts are now on the rise as well. Though there are hopeful signs that some parts of the U.S. may be peaking or plateauing, and that, in a few weeks, the surge may plunge as quickly as it initially spiked over the past few weeks. The advice this week from the Los Angeles County Health Director to hang on for just a few more weeks and avoid any non-essential public gatherings, particularly indoors with the unvaccinated or those at high risk of severe illness during that period, is likely good advice for everyone in the nation at this time.

That is especially true now that the non-medical experts at the U.S. Supreme Court seem dead set on preventing actual experts charged with protecting workers from helping to protect millions of them.

As Slate's ace legal journalist Mark Joseph Stern predicted on yesterday's BradCast, the packed Republican Supreme Court did, in fact, put a stay on President Biden's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) mandate for workers at large companies with more than 100 employees to either get vaccinated or get tested weekly. The other case heard during emergency oral arguments last week, the Administration's Health and Human Services mandate for vaccination of all workers at health care facilities that accept Medicare or Medicaid funding, was narrowly allowed to remain. Chief Justice John Roberts and Brett Kavanaugh joined the Court's three liberals in a 5 to 4 opinion [PDF] on that one.

Today, we step through the absurdities of the Majority opinion from the Court's rightwingers on the stayed employer mandate [PDF], as well as the even more absurd --- but dangerously so --- Concurring opinion authored by Justice Gorsuch with Thomas and Alito, as well as the furious Dissent, jointly penned by Justices Breyer, Sotomayor and Kagan.

"Underlying everything else in this dispute is a single, simple question," the Dissenters wrote, 'Who decides how much protection, and of what kind, American workers need from COVID–19? An agency with expertise in workplace health and safety, acting as Congress and the President authorized? Or a court, lacking any knowledge of how to safeguard workplaces, and insulated from responsibility for any damage it causes?"

The stinging Minority dissent derides the non-expert Court Majority for being the ones to decide that the non-experts in Congress, as opposed to the experts at the Executive Branch agency charged by Congress via specific statue to protect workers, must make specific medical decisions through legislation for those workers. It is, of course, madness. Especially, as the Dissenters note, the Court's "Members are elected by, and accountable to, no one," whereas those at OSHA are not only experts, but "responsible to the President, and the President is responsible to—and can be held to account by—the American public."

Tune in for all the details. But the good-ish news for the moment is that only three of the Court's rightwingers were willing to sign on to the idea that statutes granting Executive Agencies the power to regulate things should be ignored when there is a "major question" at stake, as we discussed in some detail with Stern on Wednesday. But that good-ish news may not stand for long, as the Court will hear a case next month with even broader implications, as to whether the EPA, despite its statutory charge by Congress, is allowed to regulate pollution that is causing our climate emergency and much more. As we detailed yesterday, we are, in fact, watching the far-right "deconstruction of the Administrative state" before our very eyes.

Then, in what would, during normal times, be our lead story today, we quickly cover the arrest of Stewart Rhodes, the founder and leader of the far-right Oath Keepers militia outfit, who, along with ten others in his group, were charged today "seditious conspiracy" for their part in the Trump-incited attack on the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021, as part of Donald Trump's plot to steal the 2020 election.

The federal charges are the most serious to date in relation to the January 6 attack and are precisely what our guest from several weeks ago, Marcy Wheeler of Emptywheel, told guest host Nicole Sandler was likely to soon happen, as the Dept. of Justice and Attorney General Merrick Garland continued a painstaking bottom-up probe. And yes, we did interview the Oath Keepers' Rhodes on this program back in 2016. Here is a link to that lively, if occasionally testy, interview.

And, in one more related matter on an absurdly busy show (restructured about five times before air today as news kept breaking!), GOP House Leader Kevin McCarthy, who recently told a reporter he "wouldn't hide from anything" when he asked if he was willing to speak to the bipartisan House Select Committee investigating January 6th, refused to cooperate with a voluntary invitation on Wednesday to speak with the Committee. In response to the news, Carl Bernstein (of Watergate's Woodward and Bernstein) told CNN on Wednesday night that the Committee already "has the goods" on McCarthy and what he said to Trump on Jan. 6 "and McCarthy has lied about it since."

"So, we have a real conspiracy, a real cover-up, real stonewalling in excess of anything we saw in Watergate," said Bernstein...who should know.

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, which is packed with even more news during the final few minutes of today's program...

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Guest: Slate legal reporter Mark Joseph Stern; Also: Jan 6. Comm seeks McCarthy interview; Fulton County, GA D.A. closing in on Trump...
By Brad Friedman on 1/12/2022 6:39pm PT  

Well, we start today's BradCast with some encouraging news. At least until our guest arrives. [Audio link to full, must-listen show follows this summary.]

First up, the investigators are closing in. In Congress, the House Select Committee investigating Trump's January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol are now "requesting" an interview and documents from House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy, centered on his communications with Donald Trump "before, during and after" the insurrection.

Meanwhile, down in Georgia, Fulton County (Atlanta) District Attorney Fanni Willis also appears to be closing in on Trump and his fellow conspirators regarding their attempt to steal the 2020 election in the Peach State. In an interview with AP published on Monday, Willis said her team is making "making solid progress, and she’s leaning toward asking for a special grand jury with subpoena power to aid the investigation." She also believes a decision will soon be made on whether to indict Trump and several others. (Meadows? Giuliani? Lindsey Graham?) “I believe in 2022 a decision will be made in that case,” she told AP. “I certainly think that in the first half of the year that decisions will be made.”

And on Tuesday, MSNBC's Rachel Maddow reported "that attorneys for former President Donald Trump have now met in person with the Fulton County District Attorney's office in Georgia." The meeting reportedly took place last month, around the same time that Trump issued an unhinged, seemingly out-of-the-blue statement that few knew what to make of: "All the Democrats want to do is put people in jail. They are vicious, violent, and Radical Left thugs. They are destroying people's lives, which is the only thing they are good at...their DA's, AG's, and Dem Law Enforcement are out of control." Suddenly, his remarks makes a lot more sense.

Welp...That's about it for today's encouraging news, before we are then joined by the great MARK JOSEPH STERN, legal journalist for Slate on what appears to be Steve Bannon's dream of the "deconstruction of the Administrative State" about to come true.

Last Friday, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments on challenges to two separate COVID-related Biden Administration mandates. One applies to businesses with more than 100 employees, requiring them all to either get vaccinated or take weekly tests for the virus. The other requires vaccination for all workers at health care facilities that accept money from either Medicaid or Medicare. Both rules were set to take effect as the Omicron surge has led to record pandemic hospitalization numbers. The first was issued by way of regulations from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the second via the Health and Human Services Administration (HHS). Both are based on authorities granted to the Executive Branch agencies via statutes adopted by Congress. Though none of those statutes, passed years ago, include the word "COVID" in them. So now they are both being challenged by Republican state Attorneys General as unconstitutional over-reaches by the Administration.

Based on tea leaves read during Friday's oral arguments --- with two of the challenging attorneys infected with COVID and arguing remotely --- Stern believes it's possible the employer mandate could survive, but that the health care mandate is likely to be struck down.

But buckle up for today's conversation with Stern about all of this, because these cases are a much much larger than simply about the COVID mandates, even though they are likely to save hundreds of thousands of American lives unless struck down by the Court. These challenges squarely target the so-called "Administrative State" which, as you'll recall, Trump's disgraced Senior Political Adviser Bannon vowed in 2017 that they planned to "deconstruct". That may finally be about to happen, thanks to Trump's stolen and packed Supreme Court.

We dive too far into the legal and Constitutional and political weeds to adequately summarize here, but the argument comes down to who has the Constitutional right to "protect the general welfare" of the citizenry on matters of public health (and much more). Is it Congress, which has no expertise in these matters? Or the Executive Branch agencies created by Congress and filled with such experts? Ironically, the ultimate body who will make this decision is going to be the Judicial Branch, which, like the Legislative Branch also has no expertise in these issues.

All of the COVID mandate challenges are based on legal doctrines such as the "major question doctrine" and the "nondelegation doctrine" (both explained by Stern) which, unlike the General Welfare clause, do not actually appear anywhere in the Constitution at all.

"There is nothing (in the Constitution) that requires these principles, and certainly nothing that gives the federal judiciary the power to decide what the Executive Branch gets to do and not do under Congressional delegations," Stern explains. "All of this stuff has been made up. It was made up a long time ago, and used to block New Deal programs under FDR, then immediately abandoned and discarded for nearly a century. Only in the last few years has it been revived by so-called 'originalists' who are seeking to box in Democratic Presidents and prevent them from issuing any kind of policy."

"We are talking about a really recent revival," he continues. "Because as recently as the early 2000s, the Supreme Court unanimously disclaimed any real version of the non-delegation doctrine, and a majority opinion written by Antonin Scalia [of all people!] basically said 'We don't have any expertise, it's not our job to tell Congress what it can and cannot entrust the Executive to do'. We are only about two decades out from that, and the entire conservative legal movement has turned on a dime and decided that, in fact, the courts have this intense obligation to police the boundaries between these branches, even though there's nothing in the Constitution that permits it, much less requires it."

The Scalia majority opinion in question, which Stern "encourage[s] everyone to read" is 2001's Whitman vs. American Trucking. "It is a very clear explanation of why the federal courts have absolutely no business mucking around in this kind of cooperation and negotiation between Congress and the Executive Branch. Twenty-one years later, everyone has decided to ignore that opinion on the Right and pretend like it never happened."

So, what will it mean if the Court now decides that experts at Executive agencies mandated by Congress to exercise their expertise may not do so? The fallout could be enormous and terrifying and go well beyond COVID and these two cases. By way of one example, Stern notes, next month the Court is about to hear a case where "the Biden EPA wants to restrict carbon emissions at power plants. While federal law gives the EPA vast authority to regulate and restrict all kinds of toxic and harmful emissions from power plants, it doesn't explicitly say 'carbon'. It says the EPA needs to decide what counts, and we will defer to their expertise."

But, Stern notes later in our conversation, "this does not start or stop with carbon. This goes to every toxic chemical on the planet, which Congress simply does not have the time or expertise to list. So, anytime you're thinking about the amount of benzene, or methane, or whatever horrific chemical you want to talk about in the water supply, the air supply, that stuff is regulated by the EPA, not directly by Congress. And if this Supreme Court goes as far as I fear it will, we are going to have a lot more unnecessary deaths because of a horrific amount of pollution that the President is going to be told that he simply cannot curb."

And, yes, even that is only the tip of the melting iceberg. It also goes farther than the EPA, to dozens, if not hundreds of other federal agencies and regulations on labor rights and much more, as Stern details. "But that is what these Justices seem to want, and that is the road that we are already following down," he warns. "We live in a juristocracy, my friend, and we are only just beginning to see the downstream consequences of it."

As noted, buckle up for this one...

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Biden addresses nation on Omicron emergency plans, begs vaccine disinfo peddlers to 'stop'; Also: Trump got secretly boosted; Coal miners union wants thin-skinned, corrupt Manchin to reconsider BBB...
By Brad Friedman on 12/21/2021 6:03pm PT  

Today on The BradCast: As the year grinds toward another bizarre, unbalanced close, America tries to pick up the pieces and keep moving forward. So do we. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

Among the stories covered on today's program...

  • On the heels of Sen. Joe Manchin's stunning weekend announcement that he was breaking his promise to the President and his party to support the Build Back Better Act, which includes nearly $600 million to fight climate change and help coal miners in Manchin's home state, the nation's largest mining union is hoping that the West Virginia Senator will reconsider his decision. Among the funds in BBB is money earmarked for victims of black lung disease as well as tax incentives to help ex-miners from the dying industry and to protect its union workers. While Manchin makes millions from the coal industry via the coal brokerage firm he founded, which is now owned by his son, he doesn't appear to give a damn about the industry's actual miners.
  • A few additional thoughts today on why the corrupt Democratic Senator from West Virginia --- who is killing the most progressive climate and social spending agenda in the nation's history (after every single Republican in Congress has refused to support it in anyway) --- is still needed in the Democratic caucus. For a start, without him, there would have been no American Rescue Plan (which sent $1,400 checks to Americans earlier this year, expanded the Child Tax Credit program to send $300 per child each month to parents, and helped get hundreds of millions vaccinated), nor would President Biden have been able to seat a record number of federal judges in the first year of his Presidency. Without Manchin as a Democrat --- love him or hate him --- Mitch McConnell and the Republicans would be in the Senate majority right now and none of Biden's many critical accomplishments to date would have happened.
  • So, why did Manchin decide to break his promise to his party and the President on BBB? Steve Clemons reports that while negotiations between the two Joes had been moving forward, even if slowly, the thin-skinned Senator didn't like being singled out by name in a statement from the White House --- even though the statement was largely encouraging about the state of negotiations. Lame. But we think that even that explanation is likely little more than excuse for Manchin's betrayal. We explain why.
  • Next, the remarkably transmissible Omicron variant of the coronavirus is spreading at an absolutely unfathomable speed in the U.S. just before the Christmas holiday, according to the latest CDC numbers out this week. In little over a week, it appears to have gone from just 3% of cases to 73% of cases nationwide, all but edging out Delta entirely. There are one or two possibly encouraging pieces of news about the new variant, but it will still be a matter of weeks before we know if those potentially reassuring points will come to pass. In the meantime, a whole bunch of people are going to get sick and many are likely to die. Almost all of those who get severely ill and face both hospitalization and death will be those who refused to (or couldn't, for legitimate reasons) get vaccinated, including with a critical booster shot.
  • Among those who received a booster shot recently --- in secret --- is former President Donald Trump. That, after suggesting in September he was unlikely to get one. Turns out he's a liar. Who knew?
  • Amidst the disturbing news of Omicron's lightning surge, and the hospitals that are likely to become overwhelmed very shortly across the nation (many already are), President Biden addressed the nation from the White House on Tuesday afternoon. He shared the Administration's plans to try and minimize the coming damage. Biden announced that the federal government will spend more than a billion dollars on free home COVID test kits; instructed the Pentagon to be prepared to deploy more than 1,000 National Guard troops to help overcrowded hospitals handle the coming testing, infection, and hospitalization surge; is activating FEMA to deploy additional hospital beds where hospitals are overrun, and to have ambulances on standby to help transport patients from one overrun hospital to another where a bed may be available. He reiterated the need for everyone to get vaccinated and explained what families should and shouldn't do over the coming holidays. We share his address in full today, and offer a few thoughts in response.
  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us with our latest Green News Report on climate fallout from Manchin's BBB announcement; a deadly December super-typhoon that slammed the Philippines; and some good news on mileage standards from the EPA and for the U.S. offshore wind industry...

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Manchin is trying to kill the most progressive Presidential agenda in decades; Omicron is trying to kill everyone; Both are killing Christmas; Plus: Trump's new lawsuit means he's in trouble; And callers ring in!...
By Brad Friedman on 12/20/2021 5:42pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Merry Christmas. Christmas is cancelled. Thanks Joe Manchin and Omicron.

Manchin dropped a bombshell over the weekend, announcing on Fox "News" that he could not support the Build Back Better (BBB) act, the better part of the historically progressive agenda of President Biden and of largely every other Democrat in the House and Senate. That, after the measure was scaled from a $6.5 trillion package to just $1.75 trillion in order to appease the West Virginia Democrat. If Manchin remains a "NO", the bill --- and, perhaps the Biden Presidency along with it --- is largely dead. The White House offered an unusually lenthy and, frankly, blistering statement in response to Manchin, calling him out for his lack of "good faith" and broken promises made to the President personally. We share that blistering response in full today.

It should be noted that all of the limp reasons Manchin offered for breaking his promise to support BBB are all BS. The bill is fully paid for (unlike the bipartisan infrastructure bill that Manchin whole-heartedly supported and voted for) and it will actual lower the national deficit eventually, not increase it; The bill will not worsen inflation either. It will in fact, ease it. Moreover, since Manchin's announcement, the biggest Wall Street economists have actually downgraded their outlook for 2022 based on Manchin's sleazy move; And no, the monthly child tax credit expansion that lifted half of the nation's children out of poverty during its first year, after originally being included in Biden's American Rescue Plan earlier this year, will not lead parents to spend it on drugs.

The bad news (for now) of Manchin's self-serving decision is on par with COVID's decision to not be done with us yet, as the Omicron variant, just before airtime, was declared by the CDC to now be the most dominant variant in the nation. They say it now accounts for about 73% of new cases. That was fast. As we'd warned. That's how wildly transmissible it is. Desi Doyen joins us with some clear, sobering thoughts from WaPo's national science reporter Dan Diamond that you may wish to consider on how to help keep yourself and your family safe over the holidays.

On this matter, it should be noted, since some are dismissing the dangers of Omicron --- citing its predicted infections as mostly "mild" --- that means only that many cases may not result in hospitalization. Don't fool yourself by convincing yourself that, even if you do contract Omicron, it will most likely be a "mild" case of COVID. Short of asymptomatic cases, a "mild" version of COVID could lay you up for weeks or longer. It means you won't be hospitalized, but that's about it. And, yes, it's going to land a lot of people in the hospital, as experts believe we're likely to begin seeing as many as 500,000 infections per day. During the January 2021 peak we had "only" about 250,000 infections a day.

Finally, before opening up the phones today to listeners on Manchin, Omicron and more, some slightly better news. Donald Trump is terrified that he is soon to be indicted in New York. So, as he does when he knows he's in big trouble, he has filed a ridiculous lawsuit against New York Attorney General Letitia James in hopes of buying time. It probably won't work.

Then, callers ring in on all of the above. It was a very lively show --- particularly considering the content we had to work with today...

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Also: 'A lot of people are about to get sick' due to 'explosive' Omicron...
By Brad Friedman on 12/16/2021 6:30pm PT  

On today's BradCast, we cover both COVID and SCOTUS and how to try and stay safe from and/or fight back against the very serious threats now posed by both of these hideous, rogue, all-caps acronyms. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

First up, it's COVID. Specifically, the Omicron variant, as the CDC finds that, according to their latest data, unvaccinated people are 14 times more likely to die and 11 times more likely to be hospitalized with COVID-19 than those who are vaccinated. Those numbers seem to refer to those vaccinated by two mRNA shots without a booster shot, which is now key to fighting the quickly rising threat of Omicron.

As Josh Marshall bluntly warns in one of his chilling recent updates on newly emerging data on the new, highly transmissible variant --- which still include a number of unknowns --- "A lot of people are about to get sick."

New studies just coming in from around the world suggest that Omicron is incredibly aggressive, even for those with some immunity from two vaccine shots or previous infection. A booster shot, the studies are finding, help tremendously to ward off both the likelihood of infection, as well as the worst symptoms. Two doses and a booster will roughly offer the same protection against Omicron as two shots alone did against Delta. Marshall reports the data show "late December through January will be explosive in terms of numbers of infections" in the U.S. He repeated a similar warning based on newer incoming data on Omicron last night: "The rate of growth is simply explosive. There’s no other way to put it...we should expect a very, very large wave of infections in the coming weeks...The pace and scope of the surge looks likely to be something like the original one in the Spring of 2020."

Too many people, I believe, have been placating themselves on the somewhat misleading data point suggesting Omicron infection appears to be less severe than previous variants. There are a number of reasons that it could be (including the fact that many now have at least some immunity due to vaccination or antibodies from a previous infection), but the severity level misses the point of the somewhat terrifying transmissibility numbers emerging right now and how that is likely to overwhelm health systems in this country and result in a lot of people dying. A more mild disease that infects 5 times more people is equally or potentially even more deadly.

The current surge under way in the U.S. is still almost entirely comprised of Delta cases. Once Omicron --- which is really good at breaking through immunity created by both infection antibodies and vaccines --- begins to rise over the next 2 to 4 weeks, things could get really bad on several levels. We are already seeing deaths spike again to more than 1,700 a day in the U.S., and that's almost entirely from Delta.

Bottom line: Get boosted. "It's not a marginal difference" from two shots, Marshall advises, based on a very close reading of emerging data and discussion with experts, "It's a big one." He goes on to write: "I would also seriously consider limiting obvious vectors of exposure: indoor activities in large groups, eating indoors, large crowds indoors or out. We all have our own levels of risk aversion and we can’t hide forever. But you should assume that your risk of being exposed to COVID is about to go up a lot. So plan accordingly.

Of course, he's hardly the only one sending this similar message. "All the models right now are flashing bright red," warns New York "Intelligencer" science writer David Wallace-Wells in one of his latest pieces headlined "Omicron is About to Overwhelm Us: The new COVID variant has all the makings of a mass wave." Pay attention please. Get boosted.

Next up, it's SCOTUS. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) penned a blistering --- if absolutely correct on every key point --- op-ed at Boston Globe yesterday, calling for the expansion of the Republicans "packed" and "stolen" and "corrupt" Supreme Court. The call comes not a moment too soon (and, perhaps a year or so too late). Still, it's good to hear elected officials speak as directly about the threat now posed by this corrupted, partisan Court to "basis principles of law" which now "threaten the democratic foundations of our nation."

We share most of her piece on air today. But if you don't listen to the show, read her must-read piece. She breaks down precisely how Mitch McConnell's hypocritical "Republican court-packing has undermined the legitimacy of every action the current court takes" as its illegitimate 6 to 3 rightwing "supermajority will continue to threaten basic liberties for decades to come." Democrats, she advises, must exercise their Constitutional Article III, Section 1 authority to change the size of the Court, as Congress has done at least seven times before. That number doesn't even include what happened after McConnell, corruptly "reduced the size of the court for over a year solely for ... partisan gain and then turned around and jammed through another nominee days before losing the presidency."

But, as welcome as op-eds are, action is better. So we were delighted when, immediately after the Supremes last week once again allowed Texas' clearly unconstitutional six-week abortion ban law to stay in place, the Governor of California announced plans for actual action to push back. If its now judicially acceptable to write laws that both undermine Constitutional rights and evade judicial review by allowing private citizens to enforce it, as the Texas law does, the same can be done with other rights.

On Saturday, Gov. Gavin Newsom declared his intention to "work with the Legislature and the Attorney General on a bill that would create a right of action allowing private citizens to seek injunctive relief, and statutory damages of at least $10,000 per violation plus costs and attorney’s fees, against anyone who manufactures, distributes, or sells an assault weapon or ghost gun kit or parts in the State of California."

"If states can now shield their laws from review by the federal courts that compare assault weapons to Swiss Army knives, then California will use that authority to protect people’s lives, where Texas used it to put women in harm’s way," the Governor noted in his brief statement. "If the most efficient way to keep these devastating weapons off our streets is to add the threat of private lawsuits, we should do just that."

He seems quite serious. And so does New York Attorney General Leticia James who, when asked about whether her state might take similar actions to Newsom's this week on ABC's The View, cited the outrageous immunity against prosecution that gun manufacturer's have been afforded by federal statute to say: "Yes! When I heard about that, I said to my team, we need to follow his lead."

Good. It's remarkable that the extremist radical rightwingers on the High Court either didn't see this coming, or didn't care. Of course, if the Supremes are cool with the Texas law as written, what is to stop any state from allowing "lawful" private, vigilante law suits against people who are simply exercising their First Amendment rights by, say, wearing a MAGA hat or being members of the Republican Party? In truth, nothing stops that at all, which is why Sen. Warren's op-ed is so on point.

Finally, as if those threats are aren't enough, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, with more threats to our climate than the Supreme Court should allow us to fit into six minutes...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest: Helen Butler of The People's Agenda, purged from the Morgan County, GA Board of Elections; Also: Listener mail!...
By Brad Friedman on 12/15/2021 6:28pm PT  

If you're wondering how to stay positive as America appears on the brink of a very dark authoritarian takeover by Republicans, we may have just the answer for you in the form of today's guest on The BradCast. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

Reuters has been doing an incredibly well-reported series of special reports of late on the Republicans' ongoing assault on democracy itself in America. They've covered, among other aspects, the attacks on elections officials stemming from Donald Trump's attempt to steal the 2020 election by blatantly lying about it, and even citing certain election officials by name who were subsequently targeted and terrorized --- sometimes, along with their family members --- with threats of violence and death by his supporters. They have also been very smartly covering the effects of new voter suppression laws being adopted in GOP controlled states around the nation, as part of the opportunistic fall-out from the lies that Trump told in his effort to steal last year's Presidential election.

Recently, Reuters' James Oliphant and Nathan Layne took a detailed look at the effect all of this is having on local elections officials in a state we have covered in great detail on this program: Georgia, where longtime, local election board officials --- specifically, Democratic election officials ... specifically black Democratic election officials (and frequently black Democratic women) --- are now being purged from County election boards across the state at an alarming rate.

The purge is thanks to two different state laws. One is GA's terrible new anti-voting law, SB 202, passed earlier this year, which allows for --- among other anti-democratic things --- officials on the State Board of Elections, which is controlled by the GOP state legislature and Republican Sec. of State, to replace county election officials with partisan operatives (for virtually any reason) who can then overturn election results (also, for virtually any reason.) [FULL DISCLOSURE: I am a named plaintiff, representing media, challenging several provisions of SB 202 in a federal lawsuit filed by the Coalition for Good Governance.] The other law being used even more, referred to as "local legislation", has been in place for a while, but was rarely invoked until this year in the wake of Trump's "Big Lie" after Democrats won the Presidential election in the state for the first time in years, along with both of the Peach State's U.S. Senate seats. The state law allows County Commissions to restructure their County Boards of Elections pretty much anyway they like after receiving approval for the restructuring from the state legislature.

In at least half a dozen Georgia counties that have restructured their election boards so far this year, Oliphant and Layne report, "the legislature shifted the power to appoint some or all election board members to local county commissions, all of which are currently controlled by Republicans. Previously, the appointments had been split evenly between the local Democratic and Republican parties." They detail how black Democrats --- often long-serving champions of voting rights --- have been systematically purged from those county boards and replaced with White Republican majorities in advance of next year's critical mid-terms, where popular black Democratic voting rights advocates Stacey Abrams and Sen. Raphael Warnock will both be on the ballot, for Governor and U.S. Senator respectively.

"In Morgan County, the majority-Republican county commission reconstituted its election board, ousting two outspoken Black Democrats," Reuters reports, "Helen Butler and Avery Jackson were removed after the new law eliminated political-party appointments and handed appointment power to the Republican-dominated commission. Butler and Jackson sought reappointments but were denied."

We're thrilled to be joined once again today by one of those two ousted officials, HELEN BUTLER, who served honorably on the Morgan County Board of Elections and Registration for a decade until she was pushed out this year. Butler, who we first spoke with over the summer, after she offered testimony in the U.S. Senate, is the Executive Director of the Georgia Coalition for the People's Agenda, a civil rights organization founded by the late, great civil rights icon, Reverend Dr. Joseph Lowery (who founded the Southern Christian Leadership Conference with Martin Luther King Jr.).

She is also the winner of the Voter Empowerment Collaborative's 2021 Love Award, named after the 40-year old civil rights group's legendary founder, Reverend Albert E. Love, known as "Mr. Vote," after dedicating his life to registering, educating and mobilizing voters. And Butler is also a 2021 "Defender of the Dream" awardee by the AFL-CIO Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Civil and Human Rights Conference. We leave it to you to decide if those awards are as prestigious as Butler being named last month as a "Goddess of Democracy" in Glamour magazine's "Women of the Year" issue.

Butler describes today what is going on right now in Georgia, largely under the national media radar, as being part of the GOP's "insurrection plan nationally, that 'We are going to take over every aspect of controlling the outcome of elections, so if I don't like the results, I can put in the results that I want to have.'" She also notes that it is happening not only with boards of elections in her state, but at school boards as well.

"They're not stopping with just elections. They're trying to take over control of all aspects of government. Education departments are the largest generators of revenue in counties, so if they get to control that, they get to control all money, they get to control what our children learn, what they get, where schools are located," she warns. "So again, it's a total takeover process that they're going after...They are stacking control of all levels of government."

When I ask how much control local county boards of elections have over elections and voting processes, and even outcomes, as compared to the state itself, Butler pulls no punches: "The county levels are the ones where the rubber meets the road. They do all of the voter registration, making sure people are registered to vote. They get to determine with their redistricting process, how the maps are drawn, how people are put into those maps for purposes of voting. They also control who gets an absentee ballot, whether it gets counted or is rejected. If there are provisional ballots, they get to determine which ones are counted, which ones are rejected. They get to certify the results --- they get to count all of the votes that are cast. And they get to certify who gets to win each race. So they are very critical... and if you stack it so those people can conform to a lie versus the truth, then you don't get true democracy... you get an autocratic form of government, because someone wants it to go a certain way, and not necessarily to the will of the voters."

With that, Butler explains, "they can control the outcome of all elections." And while all of this sounds --- and is --- quite chilling, Butler's optimism, as you'll hear, is absolutely infectious. As dark as the topic of discussion is, you'll be astounded to walk away from this conversation actually feeling somewhat better about everything...including the possibility of federal legislation in the form of the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act actually being adopted by the U.S. Senate, and maybe even saving democracy in Georgia and everywhere else before all is said and done. She explains how those bills will go a long way toward reversing the worst of the GOP's now-ongoing assault on American democracy and, if passed, could be "our saving grace."

"I always try to be optimistic, to look for the good things rather than dwell on the bad," she tells me, as she also explains how Americans across the country can help right now. "It's very important we get those bills passed...As my leader, the late Dr. Joseph Lowery said, 'Voting is a sacred right, but it's also a moral obligation.'"

Tune in for much more in today's conversation. You can thank me later.

Finally, we close today with a listener mail segment, including some great letters from listeners in response to several recent shows that may help you keep Butler's infectious optimism going through the holidays...or at least for the next few hours...

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